Canada has provided quite the weather in the past week! One very windy day was spent touring around Saskatchewan, but what a great day it was! First stop was Wilbar Farms, owned by Bryan & Tracey Willms at Dundurn, which is about 40km south of Saskatoon. They run a 300 cow breeding herd of 120 Red Angus cows, with the remainder being Black Angus. As well as running cattle, they also plant 12000ac of canola, wheat and peas in a 3 crop rotation every year. Wilbar Farms raised the mother of HF Kodiak 5R, who is currently being used in Australia. I was given a tour of their cow herd, one mob of which was being bred to a bull they purchased from Miller Wilson Angus, DMM Trade Secret 36X. These cows, with bull calves, were grazing on a pasture of Meadow Brome grass and Milk Vetch. Milk Vetch has the same feed value as lucerne, but has no bloat risk. They A.I. 100 cows each year and implanted 30 embryos this year. They use their own cows as recips that don’t have the pedigree that they most want to use, are a carrier of a genetic defect, or aren’t phenotypically as good as other cows in their herd.
On the way back from Wilbar Farms, I was given a look at Linda Froehlich’s herd at Perdue, about 65km west of Saskatoon. They run 100 purebred Black Angus cows, as well as a 60 head commercial herd of mainly Angus/Hereford cross, on 320ac. They are running a Simmental bull, who is a CNS Dream On L186 son (the perennial number 1 bull for registrations in the Simmental breed), with their commercial herd as they are trying to breed some club calves to show.
Back to Alberta, where it was lightly raining, and a few days later I got the chance to go and have a look at Lewis Farms at Spruce Grove, just west of Edmonton. They run 700 Simmental cows, 250 Angus cows, as well as cropping – canola, barley and approximately 500ac of potatoes. I got to have a look at their cow herd (both Simmental & Angus), and also have a look at their sale barn where they sell 300 bulls at the end of February each year. Their entire cow herd is A.I’ed every year and about 130 embryos are also implanted.
A few days later (this time in the sunshine!) I had a look at some cows at Reich Angus Ranch, not far from Miller Wilson. Reich runs 120 Black Angus cows on mostly improved pasture, but some native pasture also. All cows are naturally bred and they sell around 25 bulls annually. I was given a look at the bulls that they are using in their herd, their heifers that are being bred to calve at 2yr old, and their mature cow herd.